Pelle the Conqueror (1987)

Pelle the Conqueror (1987)

A well-done, though lengthy, adaptation of the classic Danish immigrant novel

7.2

Movie

Denmark, Sweden
Danish, Swedish
Drama
1987
BILLE AUGUST
Astrid Villaume, Axel Strøbye, Bjorn Granath
157 min

TLDR

I wish they continued this film with the rest of the volumes, but the images still hold up to nearly forty years later.

What it's about

After the death of his wife, Lasse Karlsson and his 12-year-old son, Pelle, sails from Sweden to Denmark in search for a better life, though the life that awaits them at port may be more harsh and unforgiving than expected.

The take

When depicting a novel, book adaptations on film, especially earlier on in the medium, tend to be quite lengthy. The film version of Pelle the Conqueror does have this quality, and the storylines that aren’t directly connected to Pelle and Lasse do feel randomly stitched in. But, when this epic film focuses on Pelle and Lasse– their struggles immigrating to another country, dealing with harassment from the Danish majority, and the rare moments of joy once they finally figure things out– it shines. The legendary Max von Sydow and Pelle Hvenegaard (who was one of the many boys named after the title character) share a tender father-son dynamic that easily stirs one’s heart, and it’s all beautifully captured within Denmark’s lovely countryside. Pelle the Conqueror may only adapt the first of four volumes of the iconic Danish novel, but it does compassionately capture the struggles of the country’s impoverished immigrants.

What stands out

Max von Sydow and Pelle Hvenegaard save this film from becoming a total bore. Each moment they’re on screen, you can’t help but root for their survival because of how compelling their performance is.

Comments

Add a comment

Your name

Your comment

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

Italian for Beginners (2000)

An understated, lighthearted romantic comedy made much more naturalistic through the Dogme ethos

7.0

Sami Blood

A spectacularily acted story about dealing with racism as an indigenous teenager

7.6

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

8.8

After the Wedding (2006)

A finely observed and elegant Danish drama starring the mighty Mads Mikkelsen

9.3

Another Round (2020)

A social experiment goes awry in this Oscar-winning, Mads Mikkelsen-led tragicomedy

8.0

A Fortunate Man (2018)

7.5

Ehrengard: The Art of Seduction (2023)

A playful comedy of errors set within the royal halls of a fairy tale kingdom

7.0

A Day and a Half (2023)

Westworld star Fares Fares holds us in a tense hostage situation and intimate family drama in his directorial debut

7.2

Babette’s Feast (1987)

Is there anything to be gained from a life of modesty?

8.3

Sick of Myself (2022)

A deeply unlikeable protagonist makes for an excruciating — but nevertheless wickedly funny — satire of narcissism

7.7

Curated by humans, not algorithms.

agmtw logo

© 2024 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.